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    Laura Nelson M.D.

Principal, Clinical & Behavioral Health Lead

Dr. Laura Nelson  is a Principal with Mercer Government Human Services Consulting (GHSC), a specialty practice devoted to publicly-funded health care programs, within Mercer's Health &  Benefits LLC and the national lead of clinical and behavioral health consulting.


Prior to joining Mercer, Laura served as Arizona’s state behavioral health (BH) director. In that role, she oversaw the Medicaid managed care carve-out program for MH and substance use disorder (SUD), numerous federal block and discretionary grants and the State Hospital. She has also served as Chief Medical Officer for the Arizona Department of Health Services and for the Department’s Division of Behavioral Health Services, as well as Quality Management Administrator/Associate Medical Director for Arizona’s Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Since joining Mercer in September 2012, Laura has worked with state Medicaid, BH and intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) agencies in Arizona, Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington to design and implement program and policy changes that support cost-effective community-based services, integrated care and system transformation, increase the use of clinical best practices (for example, medication assisted treatment [MAT], assertive community treatment [ACT], supportive housing, supported employment, applied behavior analysis and others) and recovery-oriented care aimed to increase community tenure, incorporate enhancements to funding approaches (for example, shift to managed care from fee-for-service (FFS), build in value-based purchasing) and to lead or participate in numerous readiness reviews and operational reviews.


Doctorate of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina

Bachelor's degree, Biology, Magna Cum Laude, Middleberry College, Vermont

Physchiatric residency, Banner University Medical Center, Phoeniz, Arizona

Affiliations and Designations

Medical License, Arizona

Board Certified, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Physician Waiver for Buprenorphine